I glared into the back yard. The canine intruder was striking again. Our cats mewed, begging to get into the screened porch. They couldn’t stand up to the jaws and bark of the neighbor’s Labrador. It was up to me to challenge this black evil that pillaged our grassy space.
My breath steamed against the chilled kitchen window panes as I considered whether to brave this battle. Dare I charge past all vanity, confronting the neighbor’s dog with my cavewoman morning hair? I decided to bear the humiliation, to face the unwelcome beast to prevent more “inconsiderate tokens” upon the lawn. I slung open the sliding glass door, and thrusting my frazzled head into plain view.
Exposing my full ugliness, I bellowed, “Go home!”
The Labrador yelped and backpedaled. Whether more startled by my hair or my growl, I’ll never know. In the nimblest manner the bulky dog could manage, it darted off into the nether world—or perhaps the other end of the neighborhood.
A girl called after him from the neighbor’s back doorway, “Yoshi!”
I closed the sliding glass door and mused, I have just ruined her day. She’ll have to go find her dog. For the following half hour, I justified myself with regulations about leashes and cleaning up after one’s dog.
What a peaceful morning we both could’ve enjoyed…if only we’d cultivated a hedge or fence.
Ahh. Hedges. Good hedges or fences make good neighbors. Don’t you wish you could be good neighbors with everyone in your life? Sometimes unclear boundaries cause conflict, though, don’t they? Clear boundaries, improve the health of all our relationships. No, we don’t walk through life with pickets barreled around us. But it’s vital to establish where our responsibilities end and others’ responsibilities begin.
This week’s book recommendation remains the go-to resource for learning the art of cultivating peaceful hedges with other people in your life. Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s book, Boundaries, includes tips on how to manage difficult relationships with family, coworkers, and all types of neighbors. I’ve suggested it to many clients, and all who read it were glad they did so. Since we don’t often learn perfect interpersonal skills from our upbringing, most people can benefit from the guidelines in this series of books.
Oh, yes, it’s a series. The overwhelming response to the general book prompted subsequent titles which focus on specific types of relationships. Boundaries in Marriage, Boundaries for Leaders, Boundaries with Kids, or Boundaries with Adult Children are among the topic-focused books available.
Check out Boundaries on Amazon, and let me know what you think. I look forward to reading your comments!